Spotlight Interview … Photographer Stuart Thornes

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JRP: Photographer Stuart Thornes joins us on James Robinson Photography Blog. Thank you Stuart for sharing your thoughts and images with us. Where do you call home?

Stuart Thornes: Home to me is Warrington, Cheshire, England.

JRP: What led to your interest in photography? Is there any formal training in your background?


Stuart Thornes: No formal training. I’ve always had a camera since being a kid and then growing up developing my own b&w prints. That combined with drawing and painting were always my passion but I never knew until later in life how much.

Later on I did a desktop publishing evening class that introduced me to Photoshop and after that I was hooked. Only recently though have I pursued portrait photography as something that I love to do.

JRP: Who are some of the artists that have inspired and influenced your work?


Stuart Thornes: I love artwork in all its forms so for me my foremost inspirations come from painters, film makers, comic book artists and the like. Painters such as Caravaggio, Rembrandt and Alfonse Mucha. Film makers like Ridley Scott, Luc Besson and Steven Speilberg. Comic book artists like Alex Ross, Bryan Hitch and Jim Lee.

JRP: How did you develop your vision and technique early on?


Stuart Thornes: Trial and error really. Try it, if it works use it, if it doesn’t try something else. Learn techniques and tips from as many sources as you can and incorporate what you like and what works for you into your own work flow and style.

JRP: Do you have people who assist you with your projects and if so what roles do they play?

Stuart Thornes: Only models and mua’s. A good model and a good makeup artist is worth their weight in gold!

JRP: What would I find in your camera bag for a typical shoot?


Stuart Thornes: Since I don’t have my own studio I have to carry everything I’m ever going to need on a shoot with me which includes lights, modifiers, stands, backdrops, camera body and multiple lenses, batteries …. and the list goes on!

JRP: What type of lighting do you prefer, artificial or available light? Hard or soft? What are your most often used light modifiers?

Stuart Thornes: Since using off camera flash I must admit I’m kinda hooked on artificial light. At the moment I’m in the process of switching over from studio flash units to speedlites only, partly for the reasons described in the previous question :-).

I am a big fan of the beauty dish in all it’s incarnations be it with the grid, sock or just as it is. The quality of the light really depends on the shoot and the mood you’re trying to achieve. For example my next shoot is going to be some male moody b&w’s. I’ll be looking at hard light with as much detail I can get.

JRP: Please describe your digital work flow and the software you use? What must one do to master the image processing?

Stuart Thornes: Once I’ve saved all my images to a named file on my hard drive, I then import everything into Lightroom.

From there I discard those images that are no good then go through the rest picking out my favorites and saving those to a separate folder. I will then probably pick the best one and the one I’ll work on first making all my adjustments such as white balance, exposure corrections if needed, color adjustments, etc. If I’m satisfied with the results I’ll copy & paste those adjustments to the rest.

The next step is then to import a copy into Photoshop where the real fun begins. A lot depends on the image but typically its then just a matter of cleaning up the image with the patch, clone & heal tools, adjusting the look and style with curve and color adjustment layer masks. I do like to add various textures via selective adjustment layers to give things a more artistic slant.

To master image processing the one thing you need is … time!

JRP: What is the most critical moment in the capture of your images?

Stuart Thornes: In my experience keeping a dialogue going throughout the shoot and listening to your client/model is crucial to getting the image you’re after. Usually the best images come after you’ve been shooting for a while. When the client/model is relaxed and starts to enjoy the process.

JRP: Name a shoot or project that revealed to you the distance you’ve come as an artist and craftsman.

Stuart Thornes: For me preparation is the key. Going into a shoot with a clear idea of what you want to achieve and being confident in your own abilities to achieve your goal is very important. If you have that confidence then everyone around you will pick up on that and the results will reflect that and vice versa.


So when I worked with two models, with a theme in mind, it could have been disastrous but because I’d reached a level of achievement that I was confident in I was able to direct the shoot along the lines I wanted.

JRP: If not artistic photography what would Stuart Thornes be doing with his time?

Stuart Thornes: Probably being a very poor painter!

JRP: What has been the best advice given to you by another photographer?

Stuart Thornes: Light is everything!

JRP: What advice would you like to share with other photographers?


Stuart Thornes: I’m not a particularly outgoing person in fact I was very shy in my younger days but I’ve found pushing myself to shoot and work with as many different people as I can have really helped me to be a better photographer. Having a network of people you can collaborate with is invaluable. So my advice would be to get out there and do it. Don’t worry about rejections because you’re bound to get some knock backs but if you love what you do then that passion will be your fuel!

JRP: Thank you Stuart for sharing this time with us. It has been a pleasure, and we wish you continued success. To view more of Stuart Thornes’s photography please follow these links:


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